Not all homebuyers wish to take on all the maintenance and responsibility of single-family home ownership. Whether you are simplifying your life, travel often, or just desire to live in a closer-knit community, condominiums and townhomes may be appealing.
There are several similarities: Both a condo or townhome will have at least one shared wall with another unit. And, in contrast to an apartment, the buyer will own the condo or townhome unit itself. The primary difference between a condo and townhome is the extent of ownership. When you purchase a condominium, you own your individual unit and share joint ownership of the building. Joint ownership includes the building structure itself and common areas. Condo owners do not own the underlying land, and will be subject to restrictions on changing the exterior –doors, windows, paint and even landscaping. Condominium developments are managed by an association, and monthly dues will cover the costs (plus a reserve) of keeping everything functioning and appearing uniform.
Townhomes are more like a cross between a single-family home and a condo. You personally own the structure and the land it sits on. Townhomes are typically two or three stories in height and share walls with next-door properties, but unlike a condo, a townhome will not be part of a larger apartment-style building. Restrictive covenants may disallow exterior changes, but a townhome buyer usually has more flexibility and a greater extent of ownership of the property itself.
Privacy also may differ. While some condominiums could be structurally similar to a townhome, many are residential units that are housed within a larger building. A condo owner may share two walls, a ceiling and/or floor with an adjoining owner. Townhome owners may enjoy more privacy than condo owners.
There will always be restrictive rules and regulations that govern townhomes and condos, typically stricter for condominiums. This may appeal to you as a buyer, if you enjoy predictability and uniformity where you live. If you're considering purchasing a condo or townhome, you should definitely review the CCRs that apply and budget for dues. This is where a trusted realtor and/or attorney comes into play. They can help go over the rules and regulations with you to see if your lifestyle "fits" the development.
You will want to confirm parking location and availability and number of stalls. Here in Central Oregon, be sure that snow removal is covered, as well. If you have pets, there may be restrictions on size and number. Some developments may include additional noise restrictions which could affect entertaining and family visits. Confirmation of storage availability and restrictions is also advised. Finally, buyers will want to confirm the bottom line on dues, whether they are paid monthly, quarterly or annually. Keep in mind that dues also may be increased from time to time.
If you have decided that condo or townhouse ownership appeals to you, you are not alone. There are many options here in Central Oregon for buyers like you who want to spend less time on home maintenance and more time out on the slopes or trails!